He had already asked two railway conductors and three women whether the train was still not coming from Waldenburg, and had learned every time that he had to be patient. So he sat sullenly on a bench in the draughty hall, took a telegram out of his pocket and read:
“Heinrich comes to Breslau at four o’clock. Pick up! Something important happened. Mathias. ”
Hannes felt his soldiers’ legs. There was still a terrible shock in it now, because he always had thought that a telegram could only come when someone had died. He had started to howl as soon as the telegram was handed over to him, and had received a rebuke from his captain, who happened to be present, and immediately afterwards “night leave” when he had read the telegram. That’s how the old man was: first sniff and then go on vacation!
The legs, the legs! Hannes is firmly convinced that he is limping as he strides through the hall again in heavy thoughts. Something important happened! He sensed that it couldn’t be good and was not at all for “important” things.
Then the train thundered into the station! The young defender of the Fatherland leaned against a pillar and let the people pass by. It wasn’t long before he saw the one he was looking for.
“Heinrich! Heinrich, what happened? What important happened? ”
“You – Hannes! Where are you from? How do you know that I – ”
“Attention! Place there! Attention!”
They went out into the open space in front of the train station.
“Heinrich, tell me, has someone died?”
He looked at him seriously and without a word.
“Heinrich, tell me! Is – maybe my father died? ”
Water shot to the recruit’s eyes.
“No, Hannes! You are all healthy. Just me – only I almost died. ”
“You? What’s wrong with you?”
“Nothing more now! Now I am not missing anything anymore! ”
They found a quiet corner in an inn. There Heinrich told briefly, harshly, often interrupted by his own laughter, what had brought him here. He does not know what he is doing here. He only wanted to be away from home. It is so wonderful in Wroclaw. Then at Heinrich’s request they went to a cabaret. And whether Hannes was still unhappy in the inn, here he was surprised by the dazzling things that were going on on the stage, and he forgot all grief in sheer amazement.
Heinrich sat quietly next to him. He felt the mockery of this situation. A week ago, yesterday morning, he wouldn’t have thought that.
A Tyrolean singers’ troupe performed. She sang a homesick song. Heinrich went to the buffet and drank a glass of beer while Hannes sat there in silent reverence. They sat around in inns all night, and both heads glowed. Heinrich accompanied his friend to the barracks.
“Good night, Hannes! You were the only one who remained loyal to me, you and your father. Now we’ll see each other here sometimes too! ”
Then, as he wandered the nocturnal streets, he knew: There is no place where one can be so deadly alone as in the big city.
The high school director had always been very kind to Heinrich Raschdorf. He remembered him very much well; for Heinrich had formerly been a friend of his nephew and as such also visited the director’s house several times.
Now that he heard the story of his former pupil’s life and suffering, his interest was greatly awakened again. It turned out that Heinrich’s long and diligent studies had been a great success, and the director assured that if Heinrich took private lessons and studied diligently, he would have every chance of passing the exam as an intern at the next Abitur.
So Heinrich rented a room and eagerly surrendered to his studies. He was astonished that a secret joy had flashed inside him when the director had revealed the pleasant prospect to him. And when he drafted his own schedule and work schedule and arranged and set up his books, the new, strange room felt a little bit at home.
So it came about that Heinrich Raschdorf became a quiet man, one who never laughed, but neither complained nor grumbled with fate.
Hannes visited him on Sundays. He always brought a good deal of down-to-earth mood with him. Heinrich let him chat and laugh. The only thing he was not allowed to talk about was home. And Heinrich Raschdorf did not even know that he still loved a piece of home in this simple, good-natured Hannes and that he wanted something for his Sunday longing, because without Hannes there would have been no Sunday.
Small episodes occurred that made the struggle to be forgotten more difficult. Once the young friends climbed the Liebichshöhe. There is a stately observation tower from which you can overlook the sea of houses in the city of Wroclaw and also enjoy a beautiful distant view. Hannes was amazed again, but Heinrich looked out over the city. Far in the hazy distance, in the southwest, the Waldenburg mountains were visible, the mountains of his home. He knew that from his first high school days, when he had often had his dreaming and homesick lessons up there. And even now his bitter soul could not completely shut itself off from the deep poetry that radiated from the mountains of home.
Yes, it is like this: When we humans are gripped by a longing, we always stand on a high tower from which we look to our home.
“You, Heinrich, where are you looking? There after that big house with the round roof and the star above? That is the synagogue, that is the Jewish church. ”
Heinrich did not answer, he stood there, lost in sight, silent.
Then Hannes put his hand over his eyes and looked into the distance. And then a great flexibility came into him.
“You, Heinrich, what – what kind of mountains are those back there? There? Over there!”
“Guess, Hannes, guess!”
“I don’t know – they aren’t, they aren’t -”
“Yes! It’s the Waldenburg mountains! ”
He quickly descended the stairs while the recruit stood up there, spellbound, not having a single look left for the big city, but looked with longing eyes towards the horizon, on which there was nothing to be seen but a few faintly demarcated, gray-blue lines. –
Another time Hannes came to Heinrich, put a package on the table and said:
“There! It’s sausage! A ship has come from home, and half of it is there! ”
Heinrich looked at him unwillingly.
“Who is that called you, Hannes?”
“Nobody! Myself! I also want to make myself classy because you always keep me free. ”
“You take the stuff with you again, Hannes! I have enough to eat! ”
“I ooh! And to drink oh! And for me nobody needs to pay more if you don’t take that; I have my wages. You understand ?! ”
Heinrich had to keep the sausage; but the night he ate of it he could not study. So he gave the whole stock to his landlady. –
When spring came Heinrich became restless: the farmer was stirring inside him. Every day he thought of the field work for which the time had come, and once he went for a walk until he met a plowing farmer. He watched it for more than half an hour. Slowly and in He then went deeply along the Oder river, and when he got home he wrote to Mathias to stop his efforts to sell the Buchenhof for the time being. He would never return home himself, of course, but it could be that he would find another appointment for the court. – So it was time for the exam. In the last few months Heinrich worked with all his might and his face turned pale and thin. The hands were white and soft again long ago.
Some time later, Hannes received another telegram. He was terrified again, but decided this time not to throw himself into premature mourning, but opened and read:
“Passed my exam. Come to me as soon as possible. Heinrich.”
The young warrior stood completely stunned, firstly because Heinrich was now a real student, and secondly because it was possible to receive a telegram from the same place where one lives.
He got himself a vacation, counted his money, borrowed another three marks, bought a beer mug and went to Heinrich’s home with the present.
“Heinrich! Man! I’ll bring you a very nice, expensive beer mug because you’re a student now! ”
Heinrich Raschdorf laughed again for the first time in a long time.
He shook hands with the friend.
“Hannes, old guy! Are you really so happy? ”
“Looking forward? I’m so happy that I’m going to be arrested again. Because I certainly thought you’d fail! ”
When they sat together and Heinrich had drunk from the new jug, he said:
“Listen, Hannes, now let’s talk about the future. Up until now I didn’t really care, but today I want to make plans again. So I’m studying medicine. ”
“You know, I’m going to be a doctor. Helping sick people is something else that is worthwhile. The Liese is also happy because she is with the sick. And you, Hannes, will be a farmer again when you leave the military. Becoming a miner is not for you. ”
“No, really not! But it’s about fifteen marks a week and Lene. I want to marry her. ”
“Yes of course! In short: You lease the Buchenhof from me. ”
Hannes winked at him wistfully.
»Lease the Buchenhof? That would be something! My entire fortune is a thaler debt. ”
“You don’t need wealth; Lene has something. You pay the interest, and whatever hangs out of the good and the brickworks every year, that is, what is left, you give me half of it as a lease when the year is up. ”
If Heinrich Raschdorf had calculated his mathematical test task for Hannes, he would not have sat across from him with a stunned face can than now. So Heinrich gave him a long, clear report of all the expenses the Buchenhof required, the average earnings, and the likely profit, which both could be satisfied with if they settled down modestly.
The end of the song was when Hannes fell around Heinrich’s neck and began to howl to soften stones. Only gradually did he get used to the great happiness that awaited him. Buchenhofe tenant! He, the poor son of the maker! And be the Lene! And he could go back to his old, native field!
After a while he suddenly looked conspicuously sly, apologized, went away for a quarter of an hour, and returned with his cheeks glowing with excitement.
“Did you know what I was doing?” He asked, still panting with excitement. “I telegraphed! Telegraphed home that I am the tenant. They can be frightened too, and I can afford to telegraph! “